The latest software update for the Google Pixel lineup recently started rolling out to users. The update includes a host of connectivity, camera, and stability improvements for the entire lineup, along with performance optimizations for the Google Pixel 5 and the Pixel 4a 5G. These optimizations have significantly enhanced the gaming performance of Google’s latest flagship, as per recent reports.
When Google rolled out the first stable Android 11 release for its Pixel devices, some users noticed that the graphics benchmark numbers significantly declined following the update. As per HotHardware’s testing, the Pixel 4 XL and Pixel 4a took a major hit in graphical performance. Since the Pixel 5 and the Pixel 4a 5G launched with Android 11 pre-installed, we had no way to verify if the phones also suffered a similar issue. However, Anandtech noted that the Pixel 5 vastly underperformed similar devices featuring the Snapdragon 765G chip. This led many to believe that the Android 11 update was the culprit.
In the April 2021 update, the changelog mentions some “performance optimizations for certain graphics-intensive apps & games.” Andreas Proschofsky from Der Standard tested the GPU performance of the Pixel 5 following the update using 3DMark, and he found that the results are now 30-50% better than before. According to recent tweets, his Pixel 5 scored around 2278/2260 for the OpenGL/Vulkan tests in 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme before the April update. After installing the update, the phone scored 3286/3083 in the same test, which is a substantial improvement. Andrei from Anandtech has also confirmed that the update has “essentially doubled” his Pixel 5’s performance. We assume that the Pixel 4a 5G will see similar gains, given that it’s also mentioned in the official changelog.
At the moment, we don’t know the exact cause of the GPU performance regression. We aren’t sure if there’s an issue in the Android 11 update that’s specifically causing this problem or if Google messed up somewhere. We’ll make sure to let you know as soon as we find out.